Originally published on Advocate.com September 14 2011 9:25 AM ET
The mother of a gay Minnesota teen who committed suicide after being harassed in a school district now under federal investigation is asking Rep. Michele Bachmann to speak out against bullying.
Tammy Aaberg, whose 15-year-old son, Justin (pictured), hanged himself in 2010, will deliver a petition Thursday with 130,000 signatures to Bachmann, whose district covers much of the Anoka-Hennepin School District, where Justin was a student.
The district is currently under investigation by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education for a pervasive anti-LGBT climate. Bachmann has not spoken out on multiple student suicides nor on mounting claims that the school district’s "neutrality" policy creates a hostile atmosphere for gay youth. State public health officials have called the region a "suicide contagion area."
Of Bachmann’s silence, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi told The Advocate in July, “I would think that if she wanted to be the president of the United States, she would understand that this is a larger issue than whether someone is gay or not, but as to whether someone is harassed and bullied to the point of seeing no way out.”
The Wednesday news release on the petition:
Mother of Teen Suicide Victim Calls on Michele Bachmann to Take a Stand Against Anti-Gay Bullying
Waite Park, MN –Tammy Aaberg, the mother of Justin Aaberg, a gay teen who committed suicide as a result of malicious anti-gay bullying, will join members of CREDO Action for a meeting at Michele Bachmann’s Waite Park office on Thursday, and will deliver more than 130,000 petition signatures calling for the presidential candidate to speak out against anti-gay bullying.
Justin is one of a string of nine teen-suicides that has devastated Minnesota’s Anoka-Hennepin School District, some of which have been linked to anti-gay bullying, prompting a federal investigation and coverage in the New York Times. The district, which is the largest in the state, has a “neutrality policy” that acts as a gag rule and handcuffs teachers from adequately addressing anti-gay bullying.
“As a congresswoman, a former Anoka-Hennepin student, and a mother Michele Bachmann is in an important position to speak out against this heartless rule, and the tragic suicides that have led public health officials to call the area a ‘suicide contagion’,” said Becky Bond, Political Director of CREDO Action. “Instead, Bachmann has remained completely silent on this issue.”
WHO: Tammy Aaberg, mother of Justin Aaberg, gay teen who took his own life as a result of anti-gay bullying
WHAT: Constituents meet with Congresswoman Bachmann’s staff and deliver petition
WHEN: Thursday, September 15, 12:00 p.m.
WHERE: Michele Bachmann's Waite Park Office 110, 2nd Street S, Suite 232 Waite Park, MN 56387
PETITION URL: http://act.credoaction.com/campaign/bachmann_bullying/